In Defense of the CRAC-PC
Despite the government’s assault against the CRAC-PC (Regional Coordinator of Communal Authorities—Community Police) along with the internal disputes that have developed in the last five years, this October 15th the organization reached its 21st year exercising the right of Indigenous peoples to have their own systems of justice and security.
It has been a complicated path, with agreements and disagreements between the same communities; of shared but also divided visions of the pathway forward for CRAC. Disputes amongst the coordination and substantive questions raised toward the coordinators in duty, from the betrayal of the historic project; the turbulent negotiations; decisions that are not made in the assembly, to the imposition of authoritarian styles and inflexibility that have debilitated the Indigenous system, that since its origins has striven for autonomy.
The current situation is not good because of the differences that have arisen between the CRAC groups that have disassociated themselves for various reasons from the House of San Luis Acatlán. The divisions that have marked the pathway forward for CRAC occurred when the community police of San Luis publically distanced themselves from the emergence of community police groups in the community of Ayutla de los Libres. This group was lead by Bruno Plácido, one of the historic leaders of CRAC-PC, to confront organized crime and to dismantle the criminal structure. Another important and divisive moment was when the election was given to Eliseo Villar by the coordination of the CRAC-PC of the house of San Luis Acatlán; that marked a fierce debate for control of three houses of justice; Zitlaltepec, Espino Blanco and San Luis Acatlán. There were months of confrontation, of threats, and even imprisonments.
This critical moment distracted CRAC from its principal aim of guaranteeing security and justice to the Indigenous peoples of the Costa Montaña of Guerrero. Another determining factor that was crucial at this conjuncture was the formation of community police groups against the threats of organized crime. The experiences of Huamuxtitlán and Olinalá are part of this crisis of security that caused the citizens to confront the municipal authorities and to detain and incarcerate the police in order to take charge of security of the community. The experiences of Tixtla and of the house of justice of El Paraíso, municipality of Ayutla, mark a new direction, to take seriously the defense of the communities and to take steps against the aggressions and threats of police and military elements.
Against the violence that continues to take many lives, various Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities are organizing their own bodies of community security, taking the historic project of CRAC-PC as their reference. In this process of searching for a model of security that protects the population, various initiatives are emerging to seek concrete responses to the problem of security that they face. The majority have focused on the formation of police groups that can contain this criminal assault. It is relevant that the community police are currently an alternative model of security that is based in the decisions of the people and emerges as an emergency measure to prevent criminal groups that advance and take control in the community and in their territory.
It is important to emphasize that the normative system of Indigenous peoples, commonly known as juridical customs, including institutions, principle procedures and internal rules, have the intention to guarantee community security and justice. The defense of these systems today is recognized as a right of the towns and communities, in instruments like the Treaty 169 of the International Labor Organization (OIT). In this reclamation of their rights, the Indigenous peoples of Mexico have fought significant battles to arm themselves, to reconstitute and reverse the harassment against their internal normative systems. The discussions that have taken place in international forums and organizations like the OIT, the Permanent Forum, the Mechanism of Experts of Indigenous Peoples that depend on the Human Rights Council of the United Nations and the Inter-American System of Human Rights should not be overlooked. With different nuances, at the international level the right of Indigenous peoples to conserve and maintain their own normative systems has been established.
There are some who consider that these forces were crystalized in the Constitutional Reform of Article 2 of the Constitution of Mexico in 2001. This, as we know, was not sufficient to fully recognize the collective rights of Indigenous peoples. However, it should be noted that since before that counter-reform, with the dignified influence of the Zapatista uprising of 1994, Indigenous peoples began to strengthen their own forms of social and political organization: the Caracoles were formed in Chiapas; Indigenous judges emerged in other states, and in Guerrero what is known as a national reference; the CRAC-PC formed.
CRAC dispenses justice through a process that is oral, immediate, simple, expedited, based in Indigenous cosmovisions and community restorative justice. It is governed by impartiality and independence, respecting the recognized universal human rights. The actions of the police and coordinators are permanently responsible to a demanding mechanism of oversight and control: the community assembly, which the authorities of the CRAC are responsible to.
The persistence of CRAC and its force is based in communal legitimacy. But adding to that, in 2011, the congress of the state of Guerrero approved law 701 of Recognition of the Rights and Culture of the Indigenous Peoples and Communities of the State of Guerrero which recognizes the CRAC and their right to carry out the tasks of the prevention of crime, administration and enforcement of justice and rehabilitation.
Today, CRAC, with houses of justice in San Luis Acatlán, Ziltlatltepec, Espino Blanco, and El Paraíso and with their committees of inter-coordination, are a fundamental actor of Guerrero social movements and en example at the national level of the reconstitution of the normative systems of Indigenous peoples. Amidst the crisis of violence that plagues the country, CRAC shines as an alternative of justice and security with roots in the community. To speak of Indigenous justice, the CRAC is and will continue being the state and national reference on this matter.
It is not surprising, therefore, that indigenous and rural communities continue looking to CRAC as a model to confront the violence and insecurity, amidst state negligence.
Today, the Indigenous peoples of Guerrero are conscious that the bodies of security and organs of justice do not do their work, but on the contrary, collaborate with bands of organized crime. Because of this many communities have decided to provide their own security and justice through their own normative systems, recognized by a large body of international norms and national regulations.
The systems of security of Indigenous peoples have proved the failure of security policies of the government of Enrique Peña Nieto. The violence and death that is generated by the narco trade, has not been resolved. This government wanted to diffuse a different form to slow the insecurity and hide the levels of violence that continue growing exponentially in various parts of the country. The citizen indignation that has risen in Guerrero and other parts of the country break with this illusion and its naked falsity.
However, the strength of the uprising of the people has been accompanied by new threats. Crimininalization is one of them. The governors, encouraged by some sectors of the public opinion always give the iron fist to those below but never against white-collar crimes. They threaten to continue governing beneath the optic of the penal code and they try to solve the problem by presenting criminal charges against the leaders of the new community processes of security and justice. Paradoxically, those same leaders also combat the threat of organized crime, relying in large part on the system of security and justice of the state, not remaining passive while being threatened by citizen action.
Of course, community justice also faces challenges. One example is the respect of human rights of all of the people involved, from the conception of human dignity that emanates from the indigenous cosmovisions. However, the fundamental challenge of the diverse processes continues to be the articulation of the different expressions of the CRAC-PC. During the last stretch of their struggle, there has been an excessive amount of discrepancies between some of the leaders of the distinct processes of the organization. These have often been magnified by the “official” authorities, with the intention to divide and weaken the system of community security and justice. Without intending to minimize the evident, but also without overemphasizing the natural contradictions of social processes, it is fundamental to emphasize that the indignation of the communal authorities and the community assemblies against the insecurity and violence are enormous and require immediate attention. The grave situation of the state and the possibility to articulate the struggles, demands of everyone involved compromise and a disposition to recognize what has been reached by distinct processes, understanding them as complementary. It also demands of everyone a clear understanding of the state involvement in the crisis of violence and insecurity that exists in the area.
The great challenge amidst this diversity is to maintain politically and ideologically consistent in order to resist the onslaught of power. In both violent and seductive times, it is obvious that the force of the people always will be an attractive payoff for those that like to thrive from popular discontent. The situation of the state demands that the members and the community authorities be very cautious positioning themselves against power. The possibility of constructing shared positions in this regard lies the opportunity to overcome the differences.
Beyond the analysis, the truth is that the community process of security and justice represents hope for Indigenous peoples that have rescued their normative systems showing that another world is possible. Meanwhile, the tragedy that is Guerrero does not cease; dozens of deaths continue each week. Criminality proliferates in the streets and highways and students are killed with impunity in the plain light of day, while the authorities in charge of the investigations and justice remain undaunted and the legislators and all of the political class refuse to comment. They are complicit in their silence.
The political class and all of the social actors have the duty to raise their voice and to commit themselves to justice and peaceful coexistence. This is not to condone certain phenomenon and be quiet with others. For example, certain social actors condemn the social struggle and protest; in each march that is carried out by campesinxs, teachers, students and neighborhoods, they raise complaints against the loss of millions of pesos, but they say nothing of the dozens of deaths that take place in Guerrero each week. For them, those that protest for their rights are criminals and deserve to be in jail but the hundreds of assassinations are normal.
The system of public security and justice is in crisis. It is important to explore other models of security and justice, searching for other approaches to combat this calamity. In Guerrero, Indigenous peoples and campesinxs lead by example.
Translated from the original here: http://www.tlachinollan.org/opinion-en-defensa-de-la-crac-pc/